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Movement for a Democratic Society, Austin Chapter


The Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) is a multi-issue activist organization affiliated with the newly revived Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Many of its members are veterans of the New Left in the 60's and 70's. The goal of MDS is the creation of a more egalitarian society in both the political and economic spheres. MDS believes in participatory democracy, the expansion of human rights, universal healthcare, the rejection of discrimination based on race, gender or sexual preference, the preservation of the earth's environment, the expansion of workers' rights, a more equitable distribution of wealth, and the rejection of militarism and war as a way of resolving differences among peoples and nations.


Contact: mdsaustin@nuevoanden.com


To join the MDS Listserv: MDS/Austin Mailing List

Yard Signs



We have revived the peace yard signs For Peace/Bring the Troops Home/NOW .

Signs are available at

Monkeywrench Books, 110 E. North Loop, Austin. (407-6925)

BookWoman, 5501 North Lamar # A-105

Ecowise, 110 W. Elizabeth St, Austin

Planet K Stores, Austin


$3 donation suggested, to cover costs and keep the project going.



Next Meetings of MDS/Austin


We aren't meeting regularly.




Coming Events





"No Borders!" : May Day in Austin




MDS/Austin and the Rhizome Collective (with papier mache figures) were among dozens of groups participating in Austin May Day activities. Photo by Alice Embree / The Rag Blog.


Hundreds march in Austin for Immigrants' Rights

By Thorne Dreyer


AUSTIN, Texas -- Activists in Austin filled several city blocks in a lively May Day march for immigrants

rights on Thursday, May 1, International Workers Day.


An ethnically diverse crowd that grew to about 700 gathered at Austin City Hall for a rally at 4:30 p.m.,

then marched to the Travis County Jail to protest increased county cooperation with immigration officials.
(Immigration and Custom Enforcement ICE now has its own office at the county jail.)


They marched past the Governor’s Mansion – Gov. Rick Perry is a vocal advocate of building border walls –

and finally to the Texas state capitol building for speechs and musical entertainment.


Carrying banners proclaiming “Todos Son Illegales” and “Unidos Sin Fronteras,” they weaved through

downtown Austin, across Lady Bird Lake on Ann Richards Bridge. They marched past legendary music
venue Threadgill’s, singing and chanting “No more borders!” and "Sí se puede!"


Organized by the Austin Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (AIRC), the event was considered a success

though there were significantly fewer participants than at a similar demonstration in 2007 when several
thousand marchers hit the Austin streets. This would appear to mirror a national trend.


Caroline Keating-Guerra of the AIRC, said she was happy with the size of the crowd. "I don't think it's

any indication that the movement has died down,"


"Our local issue here is the way in which federal immigration policies have been affecting us at a local level,

with immigration and customs enforcement in our jails," Guerra told an Austin radio station.


Leslie Cunningham, of coalition member Texas Labor Against the War, cited as a cause for the smaller

turnout the increasingly negative climate for immigrants in this country, and a greater fear of deportation.


Speakers at the rally included Sister Guadalupe of Cristo Rey Church in East Austin, Iraq veteran Hart

Viges,high school student Madeleine Santibanez who talked about the recent deportation of her mother, and

Maria Martinez of the Workers Defense Project/Proyecto Defensa Laboral, a local Austin group that fights
for the rights of immigrant workers.

There were rallies for immigrants throughout the United States Thursday. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Turnout has fallen sharply since the first nationwide rallies in 2006, when more than 1 million people -- at least 400,000 in Chicago alone -- clogged streets and brought downtown traffic to a standstill. About 15,000 people rallied in Chicago in one of the largest demonstrations of the day.”


Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of workers across the world took part in celebrations and protests to mark International Workers’ Day on Thursday.


April 18, 2008
Iraq Moratorium : One MORE Time...




On Friday afternoon, April 18, 2008, at rush hour, members of CodePink and Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS/Austin)-- dressed in black and some wearing skull masks -- marked the April Iraq Moratorium at the busy corner of Sixth and Lamar in Austin. Some carried signs taking digs at conservative Republican Sen. John "Corn Dog" Cornyn, known as the president's faithful "lap dog." Said one demonstrator: "The war just keeps going on and people just keep dying. So we must keep saying, 'NO!' Photo by Heidi Turpin.


Thorne Dreyer




April 15

Iraq Moratorium Protest on Tax Day

CodePink members and others gathered on tax day, April 15, to remind us of the $3 billion-a-week war we’re funding while the economy goes in the tank. “We should recall that what's taxing the American economy the most is the ongoing occupation of Iraq,” said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett. “Real tax relief begins when we begin a safe, orderly phased withdrawal from Iraq.” Photo by Sandy Carson.



Austin Chronicle / The Rag Blog.



March 29, 2008
MDS/Austin participation at
Travis County Democratic Convention
On Saturday, March 29, members of MDS/Austin participated unofficially as delegates
to the Travis County Democratic Convention, most of whom supported the presidential
candidacy of Barack Obama. Officially, we had an MDS table and distributed "Peace Now"
signs and bumper stickers, copies of our resolution for withdrawal from Iraq, MDS/Austin
buttons, and materials on MDS and on U.S. ''Sen. John Cornyn. Our participation was


considered a success and we plan to have a ''table at the state convention.
The following is a report from David Hamilton posted on ''the MDS/Austin listserv.

Democratic Party county convention notes.


Between 8 and 10 a.m., traffic was backed up for many blocks in every

direction trying to get into the parking lots. Lines getting credentials

were almost equally imposing. It took an hour and a half once we hit

gridlock to get inside the building.


My duties as an Obama delegate took about half an hour out of eight

hours inside the Exposition Center. The biggest delay was the

credentials committee trying to get its act together. Many speeches by

Democratic Party politicians all saying the same thing – we’re having

this little family feud right now, but in November, we have to be

together regardless.


The most interesting person saying this was

ex-Democratic Party chair, Terry McAuliffe, now a major staff person for

Hillary Clinton. He clearly said he would be working for Barack Obama in

November if Obama was the nominee. Since he’s a hack for the corporate

wing of the party, hopefully Obama won’t take him up on that.

Obama carried Austin by a wide margin and won enough delegates in the

conventions statewide to surpass the margin Clinton earned by

winning the primary. The final total for Texas will be 99 delegates to

the national convention for Obama and 94 for Clinton.


Tabling was a big success for Austin MDS. We distributed about 60 signs

and could have done much better if we had been better logistically

coordinated. 41 new people signed up for our list service. Many people

stopped to talk and took everything that was on the table - buttons,

leaflets, bumperstickers, whatever. We should strongly consider having a

table at the state convention and being much better prepared.


The “Plan for the complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq

in 2009 was not passed by the resolutions committee. Another antiwar

resolution that was much more general, but did call for immediate

withdrawal did pass. I was told they didn’t like the specifically

detailed provisions. Regardless, we passed out several hundred copies of

it to delegates with lots of time on their hands.


The resolutions process was entirely dysfunctional and authoritarian. I

applied to get on the resolutions committee the day after the March 4th

precinct conventions once I knew I was going to be a delegate. My

application went to Chris Elliott, chair of the Travis County Democratic

Party. Alone, he picked the committee – not me. I asked repeatedly how

to contact the committee and received little guidance. I went to where

they were setting up as soon as I got to the Exposition Center and asked

how to advocate for the resolution.


Come back later when we’re

established. I did and was told that the only way to speak for the

resolution was when it was presented on the floor of the convention. It

never was presented, because it was not approved by the resolutions

committee in the first place and also because no resolutions at all were

ever brought up to the general convention. After the precinct voting for

delegates to the state convention, virtually everyone left. One must

conclude that the system is very well insulated from influence by

resolutions. They are a side show whose only apparent purpose is to

deceive you into thinking something real is happening here. It’s not.


Thanks to Chris Hargreaves for coming in to help with the table although

she was not part of the convention. This allowed the table to remain in

operation while delegates were called away to vote in their precincts.

Her arrival was very timely and she did a great job.


David Hamilton





Coffins mark the U.S. and Iraqi dead at Austin vigil. Photo by Alice Embree.
March 25, 2008
Austin vigil marks 4,000 dead.

by Alice Embree / March 25, 2008 / The Rag Blog

For over a month, CodePink Austin had the 4,000 U.S. dead in Iraq on its mind. A standing call was out for a vigil to mark the number and to remind the public of the human cost of this war - both the U.S. and Iraqi dead.

On a day in which Bush was greeting the Easter bunny on the White House lawn, Monday, April 24 at 5 p.m., CodePink was joined by many others in a somber vigil at a busy street corner in Austin.


Two coffins were flag draped - the one with the U.S. flag had combat boots on top of it, the other with an Iraqi flag bore the civilian shoes of a man, woman and child. Two tombstones were held behind the coffins with the toll of dead - 4,000 soldiers and 1,000,000 Iraqis. The larger estimate includes Iraqis dead from violence and disruption, including non-potable water and hospitals without electricity. Most of those in attendance wore black.


Members of Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS/Austin) and the musicians group, Instruments for Peace joined the stalwart CodePink contingent on Lamar and Sixth Street, near Austin landmarks Whole Foods and the Waterloo Ice House. As the crowd grew to 75, it spread to all four street corners. The familiar MDS signs read: "For Peace, Bring the Troops Home NOW." Other signs read simply: "4,000 Too Many."


The event drew attention from the media and from the drivers and passengers at the downtown intersection.It was a brief moment away from the Democratic primary scuffle that the media loves to peddle, away from the Easter bunny, away from the scandals of mayors and governors. It was a time to solemnly mark the death toll and to remember that it keeps steadily rising.


On my door I have a tape that I was given at Camp Casey on Easter weekend in 2006. It has the number of U.S. soldiers who have died. The number that weekend was 2,360. Now it is 4,000 with no end in sight.


Vigil at Capitol Building March 19, 2008. CodePink photo.
March 19, 2008
Iraq Protesters Gather at Texas State Capitol
There was a liberal turnout at last night's (March 19, 2008) Peace Vigil which started at 7 p.m. at the front gates of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas. The vigil marked the fifth anniversary of Bush's war in Iraq.
By the time the speakers began, the crowd had grown to an estimated 200-300 peace-loving folks. Many vigil participants held up anti-war signs and raised their hands high shooting the peace sign at the moderate drive-by traffic on Congress and 11th streets downtown. Most cars honked and shot peace signs back.

Several types of media covered the event. Reporters present were from radio, The Daily Texan U.T, and several photographers were shooting the event -- and television film crews covered the vigil. MDS/Austin was strongly represented. Thanks to David Hamilton a lot of the crowd were holding up MDS 'For Peace' yard signs.


At dusk candles were passed out and lighted. Many people stayed until the full moon rose around 8:30 p.m. Thanks to all who participated. Click link below to view photos. View more photos here.



Jamie Josephs / The Rag Blog




Photo by Alan Pogue.


Iraq Moratorium is always 3rd Friday

March For Peace --5th Anniversary of the Iraq War, March 15

Noon-4, Saturday, March 15th, begins at Capitol


Instruments for Peace



March 15, 2008''

AThousand Spirited Protesters Fill Streets of Austin

Second-line Style Musical Parade Protests Iraq War



By Thorne Dreyer


AUSTIN -- On a balmy Saturday afternoon in Austin, Texas – the little sweet spot in the hilly heart of the Lone Star State – more than 1,000 musicians and peace activists gathered at the Texas State Capitol building, then snaked through the streets of downtown Austin and descended on City Hall for a three hour peace jam and concert, all in protest of the war in Irag on this, the fifth anniversary of the invasion.


Musicians, some on foot and others performing from floats, makeshift trains and art cars, played tubas and trumpets and bagpipes and drums. Groups of strolling guitarists strummed and sang, “We ain’t gonna study war no more.” Waves of demonstrators stretched for blocks – young people and old, students and Iraq vets and old hippies, with dogs and children, carried banners, waved signs and danced in the streets. One young man carried a placard proclaiming “The Beginning is Near!”


The Million Musicians March, from noon-4 p.m on Saturday, March 15, 2008, was organized by Instruments for Peace and endorsed by 15 other peace and justice groups from the area, including the Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), CodePink and The Crawford Peace House, known for its anti-war vigils near President Bush’s ranch. The march was part of the monthly national Iraq Moratorium activities in opposition to the Bush’s Middle East occupation.


Led by the Jericho Marching Brass Band, who were joined by other musicians in traditional second-line fashion, they chanted and boogied down Austin’s famed Sixth Street strip, past blocks of bars and music venues where tourists and musicians packed the sidewalks. The crowds, in town for South by Southwest, Austin’s annual mega music fest, waved and flashed peace signs. And many joined the parade.


[South by Southwest is a massive yearly talent showcase and festival that this year has brought over 1,700 bands from all over the world and thousands of music aficionados to the streets and venues of Austin. Live music is shouting out from every conceivable club and hall in this music-crazed town, and from virtually any outdoor space large enough to accommodate a makeshift stage. This week’s SXSW has been highlighted by a showcase performance from the resurgent R.E.M. and a keynote speech by Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed.]


At Austin City Hall hundreds filled temporary bleachers to enjoy the music of Carolyn Wonderland, Barbara K (formerly of Timbuk 3), event prime mover Richard Bowden and other activist/musicians. And to mingle with friends, pick up literature and anti-war buttons, and buy silk-screened t-shirts, “Bring the Troops Home Now” yard signs and “Pets for Peace” dog tags.


Instruments for Peace is an Austin-based network of musicians who work with grass-roots activist organizations “in support of peace, justice and sustainability worldwide.” And, they say, “to have an effect on public dialogue.” To help create a “spin machine for truth.”


This year’s Million Musicians March is the latest sign of an increasingly energized peace and justice movement in Austin, long known as a center for progressive politics and alternative culture


Photos by Nancy Simons








Proposed Resolution on Iraq.doc



Proposed Resolution on Iraq

For March 4 Democratic Precinct Conventions


The following is the "Plan for the withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Iraq".

It will be submitted to every precinct in Travis County for consideration at the

Democratic Party precinct caucuses on March 4th. In the interim, we will publicize

it in every available media.


You are strongly urged to participate in these caucuses and to advocate

for the plan. In order to do so, you must vote in the Democratic Party

primary, either on March 4 or before at an early voting site. Any

registered voter can vote in the Democratic Party primary and participate

in these caucuses and doing so does not commit you to vote for the

Democratic Party nominee in November.


Texas has the most complex delegate selection process in the nation,Texas has

both a primary and caucuses. Essentially, you can vote twice.

228 delegates, but 35 are super-delegates (Democratic Party officials) and

those are not in play. Of the remaining 183, 122 will be determined by

votes in the March 4th primary election. Another 61 will be determined by

the caucus process that begins that same night at the precinct level.


Caucuses are at the same location as the voting and are supposed to begin

at 7:15 pm after the polls close. Be on time. You merely have to show up

at that time and register as a supporter of a particular candidate. Then

you can leave. The numbers of those who register at the precinct caucus

will determine the apportionment of delegates to the county convention on

March 29th. Resolutions will be considered by those who stay.


Please send on this information to all those you know who might be interested

and supportive.


[Ed. Note: This proposal was adapted by David Hamilton from an article written by

Paul Spencer that appeared in The Rag Blog. The proposal is being distributed by

MDS/Austin as a Resolution to be presented and supported at the upcoming

Democratic Party precinct conventions.]




Plan for Withdrawal of all U.S. Military Forces from Iraq.


Please complete the following at the Democratic Precinct Convention on

Tuesday, March 4, 2008: (circle one)

Adopted / Not adopted by Precinct _______, Senate District _______.


Plan for the withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Iraq.


Whereas, the Second Iraq War has caused enormous damage to the security,

economic well-being and moral standing of the United States,


And whereas, this war was entered into on what were known by the Bush

administration at the time to be questionable if not false pretexts,


Therefore, let it be resolved that:


1a. All U.S. troops will redeploy to the five main U.S. bases in Iraq, as

quickly as possible, but no later than in 60 days after the institution of

this plan on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of the new U.S. president.

b. Iraqis who have cooperated with U.S. forces and request asylum in the US

will be moved to temporary camps within these bases within the 60-day limit.

c. All U.S. troops not necessary to support these bases will depart Iraq

within the 60-day limit.


2a. All U.S. "contractors" will redeploy to Kuwait within the 60-day limit

in order to organize their expeditious departure from the region.

b. All non-U.S. citizen "contractors" will be dismissed and given

commercial airplane tickets to their home country from Kuwait.


3a. All non-essential material will be left in place and turned over to

local Iraqi authorities.

b. All weaponry and ammunition will be collected and secured within 60 days

for transport to the U.S. in conjunction with the U.S. troop withdrawal.

c. All mine-detection devices, tools, construction equipment and material,

and medical supplies will be turned over to local Iraqi authorities.


4a. A UN sponsored conference will be organized including Syria, Iran,

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraqi Sunni, and Iraqi Shia to negotiate

political arrangements for Iraq's southern provinces.

b. A UN sponsored conference will be organized including Turkey, Iran,

Syria, Turkomen, Iraqi Sunnis and Iraqi Kurds to negotiate political

arrangements for Iraq's northern provinces.

c. A subsequent UN sponsored conference will be organized including all

regional and Iraqi parties to negotiate future relations between all

segments of Iraqi society.

d. The UN will hold an advisory conference on Iraq to obtain viewpoints of

all interested parties with no direct political role in the region.


5a. When the treaties, constitutions or arrangements acceptable to all

sectors of Iraqi society are formalized and approved in UN monitored

elections, the full withdrawal of all US military personnel from Iraq will

be completed at the agreed date-certain, but not later than December 31, 2009.

b. Eligible Iraqis who request asylum to the US will be processed for

immigration on an expedited basis.

c. The U.S. bases will be turned over to the local Iraqi authorities in

which they are located.

d. The U.S. will budget reparations to compensate for damage done to Iraq

during the invasion and occupation, to be paid to the Iraqi entity or

entities that emerge from the above agreements.


Submitted by David and Sally Hamilton. Precinct 338. Senate district 14.



David Hamilton








Dog Day Afternoon: Photo Gallery

Korndog Kennel : Gallery of Graphics


Dog Day Afternoon in Austin, Feb. 15, 2008





Moratorium Demonstrators Shake Off Rain

In Street Theater Bid to Curb "Corn Dog" Cornyn


By Thorne Dreyer




Austin -- A tall lean George W. Bush pushes a wooden dog on wheels up and down a rainy Austin sidewalk. The dog has the face of Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas. A seven-foot tall Scooby Doo holds out a placard to passing motorists. It proclaims, “Curb Corn Dog Cornyn.”


A bandana-adorned shaggy dog of the standard variety shakes off the rain and accepts an organic dog treat from a woman whose t-shirt says “Bark for Peace.” A man with a dog snout, a “Beware of Dog” sign hanging from his neck, joins a contingent of pink poodles from CodePink in a group howl and a chant of “Bring Cornyn Home.”


In Austin it rained on Iraq Moratorium Day, but it didn’t keep the Movement for a Democratic Society/Austin from “bringing out the dogs.” Some 50 demonstrators dressed in dog costumes, many with legitimate canines in tow, joined in a lively bit of street theater outside the downtown Austin offices of Sen. John Cornyn, the conservative Republican senator from Texas, from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15.


Their stated purpose: to “Curb the Corn Dog” – “Corn Dog” is President Bush’s nickname for Sen. Cornyn – and to shine a light on Cornyn’s reactionary record and his role as the president’s loyal “lap dog.”


Severe thunderstorm warnings and falling rain that broke a month-long Austin drought cut significantly into the expected crowd and curtailed some of the planned activities, but it did little to stop the zany exuberance of the demonstrators.


As the rain downsized to an occasional drizzle, they passed out “Barking Points” that detailed Sen. Cornyn’s dismal record on such issues as the War in Iraq, torture, civil liberties and affordable health insurance for children. The flyer noted that Cornyn has been rated the fourth most conservative U.S. senator by the nonpartisan National Journal, and it listed by name 28 national civic organizations that give Cornyn a score of “0” and two more that fail him with a grade of “F.”


And, the protestors pointed out, Sen. Cornyn’s standing in the Texas polls is “lower than a parcel of puppy poop.”


The theatrical demonstration was organized by MDS/Austin -- mds-austin wiki – with CodePink, Texas Labor Against the War, the Iraq Moratorium National Committee, The Rag Blog and SDS-UT/Austin as cosponsors.


A doghouse neatly crafted from a large cardboard box juts out from the street-level plate glass window of the Chase Tower building on W. Sixth Street in downtown Austin, Texas. In its door is the image of a basset hound bearing the facial features of Pres. George Bush’s pet senator. Above the door is a sign reading: “Offices of Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.”


And, as far as the growling pack of protesters is concerned, that’s exactly where Corn Dog Cornyn deserves to be: in the doghouse.



Photos by Carlos Lowry




Bring Out the Dogs Feb. 15.doc


Bring Out theDogs press release.doc






U.S. Senator John Cornyn

Barking Points:


BarkingPoints Brochure BarkingPoints.pdf



Cornyn barking points AE.doc



Bad Dog!!

John Cornyn on the Record:


Bad Dog Cornyn on the Record.doc








Opposition to the War in Iraq - From Deep in the Heart of Texas


By Thorne Dreyer - January 20, 2008 | News

Austin, TX - January 20, 2008. Some 30 Austin activists, dressed all in black, stood in near-freezing drizzle in front of the Texas state capitol building for over an hour beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, to express their disgust with George Bush’s War in Iraq. The event was part of Iraq Moratorium’s ongoing “Third Friday” demonstrations against the war.


The effort was organized by MDS-Austin, CodePink and Texas Labor Against the War. These three groups have emerged as an effective working coalition that has energized a dormant but wide-spread anti-war sentiment in the capital city of Texas. In December the three groups brought over 50 spirited Christmas carolers together at the same location to greet rush hour drivers with anti-war songs.


At the Jan. 18 event CodePink had planned to line the sidewalk with footwear symbolizing the Iraqi dead. The weather didn’t permit the “In Their Shoes” display, but it didn’t keep away the crowd.


The revitalization of the Austin movement began when MDS printed and began to distribute red and white yard signs saying “Peace. Bring the Troops Home Now.” Close to 3,000 of the signs have been distributed in the Austin area and are also used as placards at demonstrations, providing some visual continuity to the movement here.


MDS leader Alice Embree said, “The Iraq Moratorium has been extremely valuable in providing an on-going vehicle for the anti-war community to grow, to coalesce. And the visibility of MDS’ signs as you drive around the city provides a connection between the activists and the larger community.”


The next Iraq Moratorium activity will be a street theater event labeled “Bring Out the Dogs” scheduled for Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. outside the offices of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, at 221 W. Sixth Street in Austin. Cornyn, one of George Bush’s closest cronies, is known as the president’s “lap dog,” and participants have been asked to bring their dogs to the demonstration or to come “dressed as dogs.”








Local anti-war activists Daniel Llanes, Fran Hanlon, Carol Petrucci, and Alice Embree sang carols in front of the Capitol Friday, Dec. 21, to call attention to the Iraq Moratorium, a national effort to end the conflict in Iraq. Women in Black, CodePink, Austin Movement for a Democratic Society, and the Iraq Moratorium National Committee co-sponsored the protest. Supporters of the moratorium gather the third Friday of every month. For more info, check out www.iraqmoratorium.org. Photo by Roxanne Jo Mitchell. Austin Chronicle







Report on the MDS Chicago Convergence


The Rag Blog


The MDS Chicago Convergence took place at Loyola University last weekend, Nov 11-12. The following are some impressions of David Hamilton, Jim Retherford and Thorne Dreyer who attended together representing Austin MDS. Tim Mahoney met us there and also attended part of the event.


Positives. It was a great opportunity to network with veteran movement activists. In various workshops we heard from Carl Davidson, Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Non-Violence), Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd, Paul Buhle, Penelope and Franklin Rosemont, Mike James, Al Haber, Bob Brown (ex-SNCC) and several others. Most of the above were major figures in sixties SDS. Haber was the co-author of The Port Huron Statement. There was also lots of unstructured time for hanging out at Mike James's Heartland Cafe with many of these folks plus an impressive group of SDS attendees, mostly from the Chicago area, with whom we had some productive dialogue. These interactions were inspirational and informative. They sparked several new ideas for possible activities and directions to pursue in Austin. Example: Chicago antiwar activists got a resolution on the city ballot to support immediate withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the cut off of funding. It won with over 800,000 votes.


The reputation of Austin MDS as a most exemplary chapter, along with NYS-Staten Island, was enhanced. (The Rag also received substantial attention, once being referred to as that "famous" underground paper from Austin.) We had the most active chapter representation. There were more people from Chicago, but most of them were activists who are working in different areas of the movement, rather than in a formal MDS chapter. An evolved MDS likely would be a combination of such folk, with major involvement on other movement fronts, with activists whose primary commitment is to MDS building.


In addition, we (David, Jim and Thorne) had the opportunity to work closely together - in some cases, altogether too closely given that our cheap hotel room had only two queen beds and Jim sleeps with a machine. The trip gave us the opportunity to kick around a lot of ideas at length. We'll share some of those ideas in an upcoming email.


On the down side, there were only about 100 people total participating, mainly from Chicago, but also from NYC, Austin, Baltimore, Florida and a few other places, including several local SDS folks. This reflects organizational infancy. We're not yet a national organization. That means, like SDS of old, the action will be local and the national affiliation will be largely symbolic, but useful for such purposes as the positives listed above.


The famed MDS "Board" (Chomsky, et al) is very largely window dressing. Four of them (out of about 50) were there and three of those have full plates in other movement activities that seem to take precedence over building MDS. We can't say if the board luminaries lack commitment or if MDS hasn't found appropriate ways to utilize them. If MDS is to develop into an important element in the US left, it will be from the ground up, not from the top down. This is really not a negative so much as a realization, but more national structure and direction should clearly be a goal.


Although this is controversial some felt there was too much "nostalgia", analyzing what happened in 1968 instead of thinking about what we are going to be doing in 2008. Certainly we learned things in the sixties that can contribute to our current work, and that can be shared with others, but we must do so in a manner that is not condescending and focus mainly on the future.


There was talk already of another "convergence" in NYC as soon as January. But we were such an impressive bunch, some began to talk about a "convergence" in Austin in the spring - like the weekend of SXSW just in case folks have a little spare time. We may have oversold the place. A conference in Austin might be a lot of work, but it could be a good way to get new people involved and to reach out to people around the state, thus creating a regional network.


-- The Chicago Three: David Hamilton, Jim Retherford and Thorne Dreyer for MDS Austin



The Chicago Three at the Chicago Art Institute


By Penelope Rosemont


In a hectic week for activists in Chicago that included Select Media Festival, Teaching for Social Justice Conference, SNCC commemoration, the Humanities festival, Natl Convention to End the Death Penalty, Commemoration of SOA martyrs, Bob Brown's law suit against the corporations, etc., the Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) held its national convergence at Loyola University, from November 8 through 11.

Loyola provided fine meeting rooms in a maze-like setting on beautiful Lake Michigan. Thursday night eighty plus people attended Manning Marable's superb talk on South Africa, its increasing impoverishment and stratification caused by the demands of U.S. interests and investments. Marable spoke of the prison industry in the U.S. and observed that 1 in every 5 persons has a prison record. This has led to a mass disenfranchisement of black voters in the south.


Friday night SDSers from the 60s greeted old friends and out-of-town guests at Heartland Café.


Saturday morning was devoted to workshops and discussions. David Roediger discussed the Miserablist character of the University system, its conformism, its corporate character, its total integration into the repressive system, its total inability to function as a place that can expand the idea of freedom. Franklin Rosemont spoke of Surrealism, and its oppositional character, how it arose from the ruins of France after the First World war inspired by Jacques Vache a fellow soldier and close friend of Andre Breton. Kate Khatib drew on the creative side of surrealism. Amanda Armstrong who had organized a show of Exquisite Corpse drawings at heartland café attended. The show was accompanied by a pamphlet that discussed the effects of crisis of capitalism on the human imagination. Paul Buhle talked about the current evolution of the book from the days of the underground comics to today's graphic novels. Buhle is expecting any day the arrival of copies of his graphic novel on SDS. The discussion was fortunate to have present Thorne Dreyer from Austin, Texas who edited the Underground newspaper the Rag for 14 years; Thorne also edited Up Against the Wall, a wall poster/newspaper that SDS published during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.


Peter Linebaugh searched for the roots of our ideas of freedom in the Magna Carta and discussed the basis for his forthcoming book. Our ideas of community and also mutual responsibility come from that historic document. Linebaugh gives it a fresh perspective.


Muhammad Ahmad who had earlier in the day been interviewed by Michael James for Heartland radio did a workshop which centered on the experiences of the Black Movement in the 60s. In 1968 Ahmad then Max Stanford was in jail facing serious charges. He stayed in jail for a year before his attorney was able to get the charges dismissed. Michael Klonsky, Mark Rudd, Bruce Rubenstein, and Penelope Rosemont discussed the implications for the movement of the persecution of black radicals with Ahmed.


Paige Phillips showed a film clip that could be imagined to come from Saturday Night Live Comedy of a real news report on so called lesbian girl gangs terrorizing Memphis teens. It fed the fears of parents but was utterly unbelievable to any thoughtful person. An example of antigay bigotry in the bible belt. Andy Thayer, dynamic spokesman for the Chicago gay community urged solidarity and support for each others concerns and active support of demonstrations. He noted that the demonstrations by the black community against police brutality especially needed our support.


Thomas Good, Bill Ayers, Elaine Brower, Alan Haber, David Hamilton, Devra Morice and others representing New York, Chicago, Austin, Ann Arbor, etc. discussed current forms of popular resistance against the war and then joined by others began a necessary and long needed discussion of the future of MDS. David Hamilton proposed the following founding principles for discussion and consideration.


Formed in Chicago in August 2006, MDS affirmed the Founding Principles:


—the expansion of egalitarian and participatory democracy in politics, economics, and culture.


—the restoration and preservation of the earth's robust ecological health.


—the extension of human rights to include universal healthcare, decent housing, lifelong education, fortifying nutrition, reproductive freedom, and meaningful work.


—the eradication of systems of dominant power and privilege based on identity, including but not limited to race gender, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or religion.


—the growth and development of the commons, the resources that belong to society as a whole.


—the public control of corporate power to meet human needs and the expansion of workers' authority and rights, including the equitable distribution of wealth.


—the rejection of militarism and war and the enhancement of power and authority of international institutions capable of resolving conflict between nations.


—In working for the achievement of these special changes, MDS believes in working in coalition with like-minded others to create an interracial, interethnic, intergenerational and international mass movement.


During mid day, Loyola provided a lavish buffet, coffeee and free parking to the convergence attendees. Many visiting parents were offered the Spartacist newspaper and the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company catalog. Campus tours got to enjoy the book tables of New World Resource Center and Charles H. Kerr. The Loyola Phoenix ran an ad for the Convergence and an expose of Loyola investments. We would not be surprised if new students chose Loyola because the Convergence made it seem like a lively place.


The afternoon session was held in another building. A bright casual room was filled to capacity and some late comers were turned away because of no seats. An estimate of the audience would probably be 100 plus. The panel on Peace chaired by Kate Khatib and Katy Hogan began with Kathy Kelly recounting her experiences in an Irish Court when arrested for Peace activities. After talking of the many innocent victims of war especially children, she pointedly asked the audience "What will it take to make you stop the war?"


Carl Davidson explained the political means of ending the war by cutting the funding to the war budget and urged voting for peace candidates. He also noted there was plenty of room for work on Civil Disobedience, GI resistance, and that a popular upsurge of sentiment against the war was necessary. Ahmed who currently has a book published by Kerr Co., We Will Return in the Whirlwind, spoke about the effects of war and poverty on the black community.


The 1968 Confidential Panel was chaired by Beau Golwitzer. Michael James spoke on the Berkeley Revolt, his early work with JOIN and community organizing. Michael Klonsky recounted the first days of his arrival in Chicago as National Secretary of SDS as the West side erupted in flames and fury after the assassination of Martin Luther King. He mentioned that none of us expected to live to see 30. Klonsky has a forthcoming book on those days.


Franklin Rosemont spoke of his meeting with Andre Breton and how that inspired him to begin a surrealist group in Chicago. Rosemont spent time in the streets and helping at the SDS National office during the days of the Democratic Convention. Bob Brown of SNCC recounted some of the national and international dimensions of those years. The contacts with the Zegakuran, German SDS, and French groups. Penelope Rosemont who worked in the SDS office in 1968 speculated on the importance of history, that remembering our history will effect what happens in the future; that we must examine those days, what we did, how we organized to be able to develop new strategies and avoid old mistakes; support a movement with a large left spectrum; support young anarchists in their efforts and not abandon our utopian visions. In the audience were many who had played a significant role in 1968–Mark Rudd, Thorne Dreyer, David Hamilton, Wayne Heimback, etc. After a short period of questions the discussion moved to the Red Line Tap to continue in a more casual atmosphere. Mark Rudd mentioned that there are significant indications that an attempt at recouperation of 1968 and the rebels of '68 is just around the corner as Universities and Museums plan their commemorations. This sort of recouperation happened in Amsterdam quite a while ago as exProvos unexpectedly ended up with state power. It is indeed a concern of ours. We want ours struggles and the story of our struggles preserved, but we do not want it contained, sanitized, consigned to the permanent irrelevancy of something from another time, another place. We had only just begun to formulate and imagine what needed to be done in the urgency of those years. There have been stunning technological revolutions since the 60s, but the social revolution that we envisioned, the vision of equality and freedom is in many ways is further away now than it was then. What is to be done?


The Session on Sunday began at 10am. Amy Partridge began with perhaps the most thoughtful and theoretical document on the concerns of the conference, it considered the attitudes toward themselves and to power that College students and young people have developed in recent times. She argued that most students think that the powers-that-be will recognize and redress their grievances without much effort on their part. Further that they already identify themselves as activists because they donate to or march for AIDS or breast cancer. They do not identify themselves with the struggles of the oppressed, they do not see themselves as oppressed. Partridge argued that we are seeing the end of identity politics and that if we can somehow find and address the concerns of young people today a new movement has real possibilities. This summary does not do justice to the paper or the discussion that followed. Bruce Rubenstein discussed unknown slave revolts in the US before the civil war and the legal evolution of rights for blacks and people of color. Kate Khatib talked of building a community around Red Emmas Bookstore in Baltimore where social services of the city are failing the needs of the people. Tamara Smith spoke about organizing another gathering. Gale Ahrens reported on the vast investment in the prison industry which constitutes the reinstitution of slavery. Penny Pixler of the IWW spoke about some parallels between today and the 1960s. Young SDSers from Columbia College, Art Institute, University of Chicago spoke about what they were doing, what their concerns were and how the new, I can only call it hyper-repression, effects the high schools. When asked why they identified themselves with SDS, one of them quipped "It's got great name recognition!" And I must say we should be proud of that; that SDS has come after 40 years to mean a fighting organization; an organization of resistance; one that never sold out. Alan Haber, a founder of the original SDS was there, listened and contributed his passion for peace and justice to the discussion. Someone expressed how exhilarating it was to be a room full of people who were really serious about social change. And it was! Everyone participated. Penelope Rosemont added "if you kept doing what you are doing, we are going to have a movement!" We called it quits about 2pm as everyone was hungry. Most of us walked from Loyola to Heartland Café where we again dined on some good and healthful food and parted ways. All in all thinking that some bridges had been built, some good thinking had been done, and that we had a fine core of people.



Dreyer, Retherford, Hamilton, Elaine Brower and SDS founder Al Haber.


More photos from Chicago, NLN




DOCUMENTARY FILM ABOUT TORTURE OF BLACK PANTHERS TO BE SHOWN NOVEMBER 14 AT RESISTENCIA BOOKS The Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS Austin) is presenting a showing of the film “Legacy of Torture” at Resistencia Books, 1801-A South First St., Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. The showing, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a discussion on the movie and on political repression in the United States today. “Legacy of Torture” concerns the case of eight former members of the Black Panthers in San Francisco, known as the SF8. The eight were among 13 members and supporters of the Black Panthers who were arrested in New Orleans in 1973 and questioned about the 1971 murder of a San Francisco policeman. Three were charged with murder after they confessed, but the confessions were later thrown out of court because the interrogation techniques included use of cattle prods and other forms of torture. In 2005 a New Orleans grand jury revived the charges and two of the previously tortured Panthers were jailed for refusing to testify and in January, 2007, new charges were filed concerning the murder. (For more information on the case, see the attached background sheet.) In the documentary film “Legacy of Torture,” filmed by the Freedom Archives, five of the long-time activists recount their experience and describe the interrogation techniques to which they were submitted. MDS Austin, which is sponsoring the showing, is part of a national revival of Students for a Democratic (SDS), the activist organization that spearheaded the protest movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It is a multi-issue organization that is involved in protesting the war in Irag, in the continuing struggle for civil rights and social justice, and in the fight for a more equitable distribution of wealth in the United States (http://mds-austin.pbwiki.com/). -- The Rag Blog




Mariann Wizard:

Report on “Legacy Screenings”




MDS and friends -- have just put a check for $35 in the mail for Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim's commissary funds ($ sent to Claude Marks to facilitate deposits at the jail) collected at the film showing last night. I believe King may have sold a few Freelines, as well, and as you know his profits from those go to the remaining two of the Angola 3, Herman Wallace and Ashoka Cinque (taka Albert Woodfox).


I know everyone enjoyed having a chance to meet King -- can you tell he is from N'awlins?? btw, he has given me a copy of "3 Black Panthers & the Last Slave Plantation", a film about the Angola 3, narrated by Mumia Abu-Jamal and with "a whole host" of other interviews and comment. Running time 1:49. I sure would like for us to be able to view this as a group! (Maybe King would join us.) If I had room at my house for the whole gang (and if my television set ever gets "repaired"!!) I would have y'all all over here, but those of you who've been here know that 5 at a time is pushing the limit. If we were going to show it publicly, because of the length I'd still think we should see it ourselves first, and talk about how to best structure a public showing.


I'd like to think that the attendance at both showings of "Legacy of Torture" indicates that there is a young, activist-oriented audience for this kind of information, and that we are probably only scratching the surface of it. The shorter format of "LoT" allows for discussion and interaction, but longer films such as "3 BPs", as well as "Murder of Fred Hampton" and "American Revolution II" (both of which I also have) offer deeper, more detailed analyses and, taken together, make more links. I still think some kind of mini-film festival -- a day or a week? -- when we could show all of these flix, as well as, say, "Rebels With A Cause" about SDS, would be a great event, a way to bring some of the actual LESSONS OF THE 60s

  • to today's activists. But where (larger, multiple locations), and when/how often, and how to get the most out of it, is something we would all have to work on together. There are a lot of possibilities, and the key ingredient is determination.


Speaking of political prisoners, I was just pleasantly interrupted by a call from sister Marilyn Buck, who sends her greetings to all, and is really tickled to hear of the resurgence of geezer activity here. She has a terrible cold and isn't working today -- her job now in prison, as it has been for some time, is teaching other women to read. She reads a lot herself, ya know, and recommended a couple of books, one called "Beat Things" by David Meltzer and another called "Dr Rice in the House", about Condoleezza; I missed the author's name due to horrible static on the line (a short in the phone on her unit, apparently). Anybody have these?







Free the San Francisco Eight





On October 19, 2007, MDS Austin and CodePink sponsored a rousingly successful fundraiser and house party for Iraq Veterans Against the War. Guests packed the home and backyard of Alice Embree and Carlos Lowry to drink beer, enjoy a lively outdoor concert by movement musicians and salute the anti-war GI’s.


Musical entertainment was provided by Barbara K, Richard Bowden and John Jordan, Lightning Red, and Raul Valdez. Late in the evening the musicians jammed and the crowd joined in singing movement anthems and Latino protest songs.


The event raised $868 for the Iraq Veterans Against the War.



Carlos Lowry


More photos from the event








MDS Poster Art for "Legacy of Torture" Screening, by James Retherford LegacyOKprint.pdf






By Alice Embree - June 24, 2007 | News


Austin, TX - June 24, 2007. Pictured: Austin MDS at the Hutto Prison where refugee and immigrant families are incarcerated. It’s one of two U.S. sites where children are incarcerated. The ACLU is pursuing a lawsuit against the practice. The prison is run by a private company (Correction Corporation of America) near Taylor, Texas. This was the tenth vigil.




MDS Austin at the Hutto Prison Vigil (Photo: Nancy Simons) **


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